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Announcing techUK's February Blockchain Leader

Congratulations to Floyd D'Costa, co-founder of Block Armour for being techUK's blockchain champion. You can read his full interview below

The purpose of techUK's Blockchain Leader of the month campaign is to showcase tech leaders that are playing a crucial role in driving forward the development of emerging enterprise solutions that can establish trust, help organisations with adoption and bring to life use cases across sectors.

This is also an opportunity to learn from those working in Blockchain about the latest developments and trends in this exciting, emerging and potentially transformative technology.

You can read February's full interview below:

What are your current responsibilities in your role and what does a typical day involve?

As the co-founder of cybersecurity venture Block Armour and Singapore-based blockchain design studio, Blockchain Worx, I have a wide spectrum of ever-changing responsibilities. Just like any startup founder, this includes everything from crystallizing the strategy for the company, pitching to investors, marketing the venture, and often times even replacing ink cartridges in the printer. With a lot more in between.

There isn’t really a ‘typical’ day. Every day is different, every day is exciting. Engaging with clients, forging strategic relationships with partners, establishing novel go-to-market strategies and scaling the company in new geographies are some of the regular strategic activities. While I prefer the external facing bits, I also enjoy working closely with our teams to brainstorm opportunities, evaluate new technologies, and design innovative solutions to solve our client’s challenges. And, in the middle of all this there is coffee, travel, learning, and coffee again.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

Life as a founder can be quite intense, but it’s also genuinely fulfilling and rewarding at the end of the day. I get to work with talented teams and exciting partners from all over the globe and experiment with some of the most advanced technology available today. However, what I enjoy most about my work is that I get to design and develop solutions in two areas that I am truly passionate about: Cybersecurity – keeping our fast-evolving connected Digital world secure and safe; and leveraging emerging technologies like Blockchain to address some of our planet’s most pressing challenges (including Climate Change)

Why is Blockchain so important to UK right now and what does the future hold for adoption and maturity of Blockchain in the UK?

Organizations are shifting to digital business models to sustain and lead in the post Covid-19 world. Institutions across sectors are accelerating digital transformation programs and investing in technology to address changing customer behaviour, new work patterns, and interrupted supply chains, as well as to build longer-term sustainability and resilience. And, that’s where emerging technologies like Blockchain come in. Propelled by the new business models and opportunities to upgrade the existing legacy infrastructure, Blockchain technology is swiftly establishing itself as key enabler of the emerging digital enterprise environment.

Distributed ledger technology is being considered by enterprises, small, medium and large, for the operational efficiencies and higher security it can offer. In the UK, businesses are already looking at streamlining various aspects of their operation with the help of technology that is future ready.

From enabling secure digital transactions of payment and data to tokenizing real world assets, the underlying technology behind the viral success of digital currencies brings about higher levels of transparency, decentralization, immutability, security and encryption than legacy IT networks and solutions can offer. As a result, several sectors, such as healthcare, manufacturing, high tech and finance are exploring adopting blockchain to varying degrees to enhance their operations.

As consumers demand more transparency in all aspects of their lives, they will also seek greater levels of accountability from organizations. Blockchain's immutable way of recording data can help businesses achieve this. In addition, with the higher level of awareness towards sustainability, industries are looking for cleaner, more energy efficient and environmentally responsible technologies. The new generation blockchain networks which are carbon negative also offer much promise for businesses looking to adopt greener strategies.

Lastly, the new digital wave of Web3 technologies will be powered by Blockchain, and businesses realize that cannot afford to be left behind.

What industries or sectors of the UK economy do you think could benefits from adopting and using Blockchain technology and why?

While blockchain technology has the potential to impact almost every industry, most of its use cases beyond fintech still remain in the nascent or early stages of adoption. However, several businesses around the world have already started implementing blockchain-based solutions and experiencing their benefits. Some of the key sectors that can enjoy significant benefits from adopting the technology include:

Banking and financial services: According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Blockchain Survey, global FSI leaders see digital assets and their underlying blockchain technologies as a strategic priority now and in the near future. 81% strongly agree that blockchain technology is broadly scalable and has achieved mainstream adoption. Blockchain and digital currencies have the power to enable faster and more secure transactions. Payments, interbank transfers and cross-border remittances, can become far more efficient and cheaper, enabling more profits for both businesses as well as consumers. In addition, the DLT can also be used to tokenize real world assets, bringing about greater levels of fractional ownership and increasing the levels of inclusion among investors in capital markets. Sustainable finance, carbon markets and impact investing can rapidly scale using decentralized financial innovations that blockchain offers.

Supply chain: Implementing blockchain technology can empower the supply chain by making it more transparent, improving visibility, and bringing in greater accountability among organizations and their suppliers. According to a 2019 PwC study, 37% of companies categorized as digital champions had piloted blockchain solutions while another 33% were planning to do so within five years. Blockchain in the supply chain can make every component and its origin trackable and recorded in a tamper-proof and highly visible manner. In this way, it can help bring down the misuse of fake raw materials or illegally sourced components, while raising awareness among the more conscious consumers of the future.

Healthcare: Blockchain technology makes it possible for organizations in the healthcare sector store records in a highly secure, encrypted manner, which are harder to hack or manipulate. In an industry where privacy of utmost importance, blockchain is helping secure not only patient records but also sensitive IP-related data within organizations, maintaining data integrity and bringing about higher levels of trust in the industry.

Government: Government organizations are realizing the benefit of digitizing sensitive information on the blockchain as it offers superior levels of security as well as transparency. Information pertaining to ownership, e.g. land records, are being recorded on the blockchain to weed out corruption and illegal practices even as they increase the efficiency of operations for government organizations.

How can Blockchain help with sustainability challenges and what role can the UK play in this space?

As organizations look for tools to mitigate their impact on climate change, the idea of utilizing Blockchain technology has been on the forefront of many conversations. The fast-evolving distributed ledger technology can help companies - and the world, at large - meet ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Carbon markets specifically offer a unique case to leverage Blockchain technology. From bringing together multiple geographically-dispersed stakeholders onto a unifying decentralized platform and lowering barriers of entry to improving carbon emission trading, and increase transparency of reported greenhouse gases emission reductions, Blockchain technology can be instrumental in defining next-gen Carbon Markets.

Climate change is a global coordination problem, not a technology problem. Much of the technology we need already exists in some form or the other. Post COP-26, the UK could play a pivotal role in anchoring international efforts, hosting global decentralized platforms and coordinating international efforts to effectively channel climate finance.

What do you think is the key challenges, issue or barriers that needs to be broken down if we are to make the UK Blockchain ready?

There is still considerable lack of awareness about its true potential beyond cryptocurrencies and fintech. Most people know about blockchain powering digital currencies but fail to realize that the technology is just as powerful in bringing about transformation across several other industries and walks of life.

The UK must focus on implementing programs that can raise awareness about the technology, its potential, the multitude of use cases and other information to make executives across all sectors more responsive towards blockchain. Educational programs, case studies of organizations that have already rolled out blockchain based solutions and the benefits they have incurred, can all help in overcoming this challenge.

Another key challenge the nation could face is in the shortage of skilled talent. As it is a relatively new technology, professionals who are trained and qualified to work on the blockchain are extremely limited in the UK and across most parts of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic and related uncertainties also make it harder for professionals to gain access to employment opportunities and come into the UK with these necessary skills and certifications, hindering the rollout of blockchain based technology among organizations in the country.

How can the Blockchain industry and market equip organisations with the understanding, skills and knowledge to make the right Blockchain decisions for now and for the future? Do we have everything we need?

The blockchain industry has the necessary expertise and visibility to educate and deliver insights into the potential of this technology. By conducting workshops, hosting and participating in events, they can equip the mainstream industries with information on the power of blockchain for digital transformation. With the backing of the government in the form of greater regulatory clarity on the setting up and operating of blockchain-based companies in the UK, the industry can deliver higher levels of confidence in their solutions and gain traction among real world use cases.

What is your prediction for how Blockchain and DLT Technologies will change the way organisations operate in 2022 and beyond?

Blockchain and DLT will usher in a whole new era of efficiency and transparency into the way businesses conduct themselves and engage with their consumers. For the consumer demanding greater accountability and responsibility towards sustainability, the DLT offers a far better way of operating. Organizations previously hesitant of implementing digital transformation efforts due to security concerns can also benefit from the inbuilt encryption with a blockchain network.

Looking ahead, it is impossible to ignore blockchain technology and relegate it to the fringe. The post-pandemic era has forced organizations to revisit their strategies and undertake digital transformation at a rapid pace. For businesses wanting to do so without compromising on security or scalability, blockchain technology offers a very exciting proposition to explore and adopt.


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